Faculty Senate debates adding first-year law program in Boise

By: 04.28.2016 Administration, News 1474 Views

As it is now at the University of Idaho, law students must spend their first year in Moscow before considering the option to move to the Boise law school, but the College of Law is looking to expand.

At the Faculty Senate meeting April 19, Richard Seamon of the College of Law reviewed the proposal to offer a first-year law program at UI”s Boise law school. The proposal passed 20-1-4, but the vote didn”t come without a thorough debate first.

Currently, UI”s Boise law school only offers programs for second and third-year law students. The law school on the Moscow campus offers all three years.

Along with adding a section for first-year law students, the proposal would bring three full-time faculty members from Moscow to Boise and add a new full-time faculty to the Boise law school. Seamon said the law program is in the process of requesting funds of $732,000 from the Idaho Legislature to pay for the new faculty positions and resources for the transfer.

The proposal sparked a debate in Faculty Senate about whether two separate law schools would benefit UI. Faculty Sen. Patrick Hrdlicka of the College of Science said having two sets of law faculty in Moscow and in Boise concerned him. He said expanding in Boise was a good idea, but he wasn”t sure how the expansion would impact the law school in Moscow.

“I think Boise makes perfect sense,” Hrdlicka said. “It”s the continued presence up here that is worrisome from a financial perspective.”

Vice Chair of Faculty Senate Liz Brandt, who is a part of the College of Law, said it is still the interest of the university to maintain a strong law school in Moscow.

“The national trend is having law schools move back onto campuses,” Brandt said.

She said letting other law schools expand while UI stays the same would put the university behind. Other senators agreed and said to not expand the law school in Boise would be to miss a big opportunity.

But other members of Faculty Senate were still concerned that the expansion could negatively affect the Moscow campus” law school in the future. Hrdlicka asked what the law school program at UI would look like in 10 years if the expansion went through.

Faculty Sen. Mark Adams, dean of the College of Law, said the law school in Moscow is strong despite the two years already offered in Boise. He said two-thirds of UI law students choose to stay in Moscow for their second and third year after finishing their first. He was confident that offering another year in the program would not be detrimental to the Moscow law school.

“People having been coming to study law here for over a century,” Adams said. “Why would that suddenly disappear and dry up?”

Erin Bamer can be reached at arg-news@uidaho.edu or on Twitter @ErinBamer

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